WITH DEBORAH SCHOENEMAN
Jay Leno may want to think about calling in sick when he joins Matt Lauer as co-host of the Today show on May 12. At last week’s Audrey Hepburn auction at Sotheby’s, we overheard Lauer complaining to best friend and former Today host Bryant Gumbel that he doesn’t understand why Katie Couric and Leno are trading jobs for the day. The switcheroo is part of a ratings gimmick for May sweeps in which Couric, Lauer, Al Roker, and Ann Curry will all trade jobs with somebody for a day. Lauer told Gumbel that he had been under the impression that these temp jobs would be completely unrelated to their regular roles. “What’s the big deal having Katie sitting there and interviewing celebrities?” Lauer mused. “What’s so new? I think it’s bizarre.” While Lauer’s gig hasn’t been decided, he told Gumbel that he may be trading places with a taxi driver, meaning that when it’s his turn to switch, Couric will have a cabbie for a co-host. “But I get Jay Leno sitting next to me,” Lauer said. “So what?”
Buzz among the social set is that Alex and Alexandra von Furstenberg have hit a rough patch and that they’ve been living apart for about a month. Alex, whose mom is designer Diane von Furstenberg and whose stepdad is media mogual Barry Diller, married Alexandra, whose father is duty-free-shop magnate Robert Miller, seven years ago, and they have two children. Alexandra is creative director at her mother-in-law’s famed fashion house. Their spokesman, Paul Wilmot, confirms that they’re not living together but tells us that they are in marriage counseling and expect to reconcile: “This is just a hiccup.”
Move over, Puffy. Damon Dash is on his way to becoming the hip-hop mogul most likely to take over the world. Dash—whose $450 million empire, which he partially shares with Jay-Z, includes Roc-a-Fella Records, the Rocawear clothing line, and Armadale vodka—tells us he’s taking over the West Village space formerly occupied by Moomba. His partner in the new venture—named the Breakfast Club—is D.J. Samantha Ronson. Jeff Goldstein and Butch Ural of the Star Room in the Hamptons will run the joint. Opening night is either May 3, Dash’s 32nd birthday, or May 7, to coincide with the premiere of his movie-directing debut, Death of a Dynasty, at the Tribeca Film Festival. Look for a return of Moomba’s infamous velvet ropes. Dash & Co. may reserve the upstairs as a members-only room. Dash proclaimed, in his typically modest fashion, “I want to do everything. I want all the money now.”
Caroline Rhea is still waiting to hear if her talk show will live to see another season, but one thing that’s definitely kaput is her love life. She and her longtime boyfriend, Bob Kelty, an aids fund-raiser, have called it quits. “We were engaged for four years, which is ten times longer than the average Hollywood marriage,” Rhea told us. It was only six months ago that Rhea urged viewers to help plan her wedding day. On her show’s Website, she asked viewers to weigh in on the color of her dress, the kind of cake she should have, and whether it was okay for Kelty to have a woman as his best man. That’s all behind her now, but Rhea has plenty to do to take up her free time. On May 9, she’ll begin her run as the star of Douglas Carter Beane’s new play, Mondo Drama, at the Drama Dept. in the West Village.
MOORE HOUSE: Julianne Moore has a new landlord—Christy Turlington. The actress and her director boyfriend, Bart Freundlich, are renting the supermodel’s Greenwich Village townhouse because they’ve sold their penthouse on West 13th Street (they’re looking to buy a townhouse of their own). Turlington’s asking price for the 4,900-square-foot, five-story 1849 Greek Revival was $20,000 a month, but Moore’s rep says they cut a better deal: “It is expensive, but it comes fully furnished.”
MEIER THE MERRIER: Vincent Gallo is the latest celeb to buy in Richard Meier’s Perry Street building. We hear that he paid $2.1 million for an 1,800-square-foot loft in the north tower. Gallo’s broker, Chris Leavitt of the Corcoran Group, declined to comment.